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Asia's best companies 2002: Hong Kong takes the cream

Many Asian firms are adopting imaginative strategies to cope with the difficult business environment and improving their treatment of shareholders. Hong Kong companies have caught the analysts’ eyes.

The Hong Kong economy may be suffering but research analysts still rate companies based there as the cream of the crop among Asian corporates. They take five of the number one rankings across the 20 different sectors in the 2002 best companies poll, the most from any one country.

Within Hong Kong, Sun Hung Kai Properties beats off rivals including Hutchison Whampoa, HSBC and Johnson Electric to clinch top spot, according to analysts. The large-scale developer, which is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, has been innovative in its strategies for coping with the property downturn. In a city where space is still a luxury, the company has done well by being the first to include extra facilities, such as spas, which continue to earn it maintenance fees even after the property has been sold.

The company was listed in 1972 but is still family-run, with the original founder's three sons at the helm. Analysts maintain that it has an excellent investor relations department that is highly responsive to enquiries. Full-year earnings to June 2002 have increased by 2% year on year. Eva Lee, research analyst at ING Financial Markets in Hong Kong, says of the company's operating performance: "It is consistent and there is good execution of the business strategy."

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